I’m just back from “Breakfast with Santa” with my six year old daughter. It’s a fundraiser event put on by the Ontario Ladies’ College, at Trafalgar Castle, which is right here in Whitby. This is Sarah’s fourth time attending, I think. She had a great time… except for the entertainment.

My two year old niece, who is generally very confident and open to new experiences, cried and left early. Honestly, I don’t blame her. The musician was just too darned loud. Loud guitar, loud voice, giant acoustic system, cover-your-ears kind of loud.

It’s been about fifteen years since I frequented the university bar scene, but I remember loud. I remember lean-in-and-shout-in-your-roommate’s-ear-on-the-dancefloor loud, and music that was felt more than it was heard. Fine for nineteen year olds. Not so great for the Santa Claus crowd.

This singer (who shall remain nameless)¬†wasn’t reaching bar scene decibels, but he wasn’t playing to the Santa Claus crowd, either.

I think he forgot his audience. He put on a show for middle graders in a room full of primaries and preschoolers. Most of the younger kids, the ones who weren’t scared off like my niece, stayed at the tables with their parents, looking overwhelmed. Some, like my daughter, sat through part of the show (she covered her ears), then drifted away. And some, of course, loved it. It was a good show. Just really, really loud.

I just think he might have had more kids loving it had he looked around the room, taken stock of the age of the kids, and unplugged his guitar. Maybe mixed a little gentle in with the zany. And then maybe my niece might have stayed to see Santa. But I guess he didn’t see the little kids… because they were the ones too scared to come join in the show.

My take-home writing lesson for the day? Remember the audience. I’m overhauling a manuscript for middle graders right now. I’m going to try to put my nine-year-old boy brain on and get to work, and remember that it’s not about me–it’s about the audience.

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